• About Julie

    NJ native without the accent or the big hair. Currently residing in Beijing. Teaching English. Absorbing all things China. Exploring SE Asia.

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3 book series I never thought I’d read

I always said I’d never read Harry Potter.  Not because of the usual conservative C mumbo-jumbo about it being witchcraft and morally off-base, but because I just don’t like that stuff.  I’m not big into fantasy or sci-fi.  Then I came to China and all of my students wanted to talk about Harry Potter.  I held out until the spring of 2008 before giving in.  I think I read all seven books in a three week time span, and if you’ve ever read them you know they aren’t small books.  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed them, and was a little sad when it was over.

Then last spring the next big craze was Twilight.  I didn’t even pretend to hold out, I just gave in and read them all.  (Note: Even so, I am no twi-hard.)

And on Wednesday I started to read The Lightning Thief, the first book of Rick Riordan’s series “Percy Jackson & The Olympians.”  Continue reading

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The books of 2009

One of my goals for 2009 was to read, on average, a book a week.  I came very close.  Even though I didn’t make it, I did read more than I did in 2008.  Just like last year, here are the books I read this year.  But this time I’m going to do something a little different.  While I’m in China I often start reading whatever is lying around or available, so I don’t always know what the book is about.  In the interest of keeping you from reading the ones that turned out not to be so good, here’s a little rating system:

bold = Read it!  It’s good.
normal = Neutral.  Neither highly recommended nor disliked.
strikethrough = Bad.  Don’t read it.

I’ll link the books in bold to Amazon so you can read about them if you want to.  They are in the order I read them, beginning in January.  Also, I’m an adult making suggestions to adults, so I’m not advocating that you give any of these to your 12-year old before you read it first.

  1. The Brethren (John Grisham)
  2. The Beach (Alex Garland)
  3. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
  4. Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… One School at A Time (Greg Mortenson)
  5. The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town (John Grisham)
  6. The Thirteenth Tale (Diane Setterfield)
  7. Angels & Demons (Dan Brown)  If you’re going to read a Dan Brown book, go with this one, although the ending is a little crazy.
  8. The Appeal (John Grisham)
  9. Improving Your Serve (Charles Swindoll)
  10. Mere Xtianity (C. S. Lewis)
  11. Prince Caspian (C. S. Lewis)  We read this in class.
  12. The Eyre Affair (Jasper Fforde)
  13. Lost in a Good Book (Jasper Fforde)
  14. The Well of Lost Plots (Jasper Fforde)
  15. The King Of Torts (John Grisham)
  16. Father Melancholy’s Daughter (Gail Godwin)
  17. Twilight (Stephanie Meyer)
  18. New Moon (Stephanie Meyer)
  19. Eclipse (Stephanie Meyer)
  20. Breaking Dawn (Stephanie Meyer)
  21. The Host (Stephanie Meyer)
  22. The Beautiful Fight (Gary Thomas)
  23. The Secret (Beverly Lewis)
  24. Rain Song (Alice Wisler)
  25. Kiss (Ted Dekker)
  26. The Parting (Beverly Lewis)
  27. The Forbidden (Beverly Lewis)
  28. The Longing (Beverly Lewis)
  29. The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University (Kevin Roose)
  30. Multiple Blessings (Gosselin)  Considering what happened to these people this year, a good portion of this book was a string of lies to sell more copies.
  31. Adam (Ted Dekker)
  32. G0d in The Dock (C. S. Lewis)
  33. Monster (Frank Peretti)
  34. What He Must Be (Voddie Baucham)
  35. American Born Chinese (Gene Luen Yang) This is a graphic novel that combines China, the US, some Xtianity, and the Monkey King.  Good, if you like that kind of thing.
  36. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (Anna Frank)
  37. The Witch of Blackbird Pond (Elizabeth George Speare)  We’re reading through this in my 8th grade literature class.
  38. Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth (Albert Mohler)
  39. The Lost Symbol (Dan Brown)
  40. The Sacred Romance (Brent Curtis & John Eldridge)  If you don’t like Eldridge, you might not hate this book.
  41. Where Underpants Come From: From Checkout to Cotton Field – Travels Through the New China (Joe Bennett)  I didn’t bold this because there are a number of China fallacies that Bennett perpetuates in it.  But a good read if you’ve lived in China and can pick apart the fact from the fiction.
  42. The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)  The story is good, but it’s not a rated-G read.
  43. PS, I Love You (Cecelia Ahern)
  44. Respectable Sins (Jerry Bridges)
  45. The Five People You Meet in Heaven (Mitch Albom)
  46. The Associate (John Grisham)
  47. Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding G0d’s Will or How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random… Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, Etc. (Kevin DeYoung)  I have a few bones to pick with this book, but the author is mostly writing to combat a subcultural trend.  It’s good and will make you think.  Even better, it’s small and concise.
  48. Escaping North Korea: Defiance and Hope in the World’s Most Repressive Country (Mike Kim) Most fascinating book I’ve read in a long time.  Kim talks about forcibly entered the British embassy in Shanghai and smuggling North Koreans through an underground railroad through China-Laos-Thailand.  If you’ve ever traveled in this area of the world it will be of special interest to you.  He describes almost the exact route that I took when I traveled between China and Laos this time last year (only I did it legally :)).

What good books have you read recently?  Which are on your “to-read” list?  What are your reading suggestions for 2010?

I keep track of the books I read at Goodreads, a sort of social networking site for readers.  Create your own account, see what your friends are reading, and follow me there!

Happy Niu Year 新牛年快乐!

I’ll take a cue from my students and say that my new year’s resolution is 1600×1200.

Continuing tradition, here are the books I read this year. I wouldn’t recommend all of them, so don’t read anything just because it made the list!

  1. The Lexus and the Olive Tree (Thomas L. Friedman)
  2. Be Intolerant (Ryan Dobson)
  3. The Faith of George W. Bush (Stephen Mansfield)
  4. Gathering Blue (Lois Lowry)
  5. The Peacemaker (Ken Sande)
  6. Sarah (Kaylene Johnson)
  7. Why We’re Not Emergent (Kevin Deyoung, Ted Kluck)
  8. The Shack (William P. Young)
  9. Holes (Louis Sachar)
  10. Under The Overpass (Mike Yankoski)
  11. What Went Wrong? (Bernard Lewis)
  12. Faith of Our Fathers (Chan Kei Thong)
  13. Forever In Blue (Ann Brashares)
  14. Girls In Pants (Ann Brashares)
  15. The Partner (John Grisham)
  16. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter (Kim Edwards)
  17. Get Off Your Knees And “Think” (Sheila Walsh)
  18. Lies Women Believe (Nancy Leigh DeMoss)
  19. The Blue Castle (L. M. Montgomery)
  20. Get Married (Candice Watters)
  21. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (J. K. Rowling)
  22. Harry Potter and the Chamber Of Secrets (J. K. Rowling)
  23. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (J. K. Rowling)
  24. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (J. K. Rowling)
  25. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J. K. Rowling)
  26. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (J. K. Rowling)
  27. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (J. K. Rowling)
  28. The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
  29. The Christmas Promise (Donna VanLiere)
  30. The Heavenly Man (Brother Yun)
  31. Atonement (Ian McEwan)
  32. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
  33. A Painted House (John Grisham)
  34. The Runaway Jury (John Grisham)
  35. The Summons (John Grisham)

Here are the first in order on my bookshelf for 2009:

  1. The Beach (Alex Garland)
  2. Prince Caspian (C. S. Lewis)
  3. The Brethren (John Grisham)
  4. Improving Your Serve (Charles Swindoll)
  5. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)
  6. The Story of English (Robert McCrum)
  7. The Cost of Discipleship (Dietrich Bonoeffer)
  8. Modern Leadership Strategies From Ancient Chinese Wisdom (Robert Foster)
  9. Three Cups Of Tea (Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin)
  10. China’s Ascendancy: An Opportunity Or Threat? (Sheng-Wei Wang)
  11. The King Of Torts (John Grisham)
  12. God at The Dock (C. S. Lewis)

My goal is to read a book a week, at the minimum. What are your suggestions?